THE ACTS 17
THE CONSTANT PRESENCE OF GOD IN OUR WORLD
I cannot overemphasize the important fact that it was necessary for God to take an active and direct part in the events of these early days of the Christian ministry. The Gospel Story was so incredible that it was beyond the imagination of the human mind. Even the Jewish leaders, who had the prophets before them, could only envision an earthly Kingdom. To imagine that the Son of God could visit earth and make the sacrifice of the Cross, was impossible for any human to grasp. Add to that the establishment of a Spiritual Kingdom, and you have a set of facts that only God could envision. So, He had to direct the minds of His ministers, show miracles to authenticate the facts, and select the right people to do the job. What is so familiar to us today, was totally unimaginable to those who lived in the time before and immediately after Jesus Christ.
The story of the Cross is now familiar, and the Bible has been in human hands for almost twenty centuries. There is no longer any necessity for God to directly intervene in the spread of the Gospel.
He can now leave it in the hands of His children, who have the responsibility of taking the story to the world. It no longer needs miracles to authenticate it, for the miracle of the Cross and the story of the Christ have stood the test of time and remain unchanged.
We no longer need miracles…only preachers who are true to the text of the Book.
However, in these early days, recorded in the book of Acts, the presence and activity of God was quite evident. Now we return to Peter, after the story of Phillip’s encounter with the Eunuch and
Saul’s conversion from a persecutor to the greatest defender of Jesus Christ, we continue with the ministry of Peter in Acts 9:32.
Peter goes to Lydda and to Joppa in his preaching tour. At these two places he heals a bed-ridden man, called Aeneas, and raises a woman, named Dorcas, from the dead. In each instance he makes it very plain that it is not by his power that he does it but by the power of Jesus Christ the Lord. The passages do not say the people worshipped Peter, but that they “turned to the Lord”.
Again, the miracles were not for the purpose of relieving human suffering, but to authenticate the message of salvation from the Lord.
It is true that Jesus was sensitive to and sympathetic to human misery. His miracles were always directed in such a way that such misery was alleviated. However, He knew that the greater misery was of the soul, and the miracles were always used to cause people to believe in God and accept Him as God’s Son, for the only way to God was through Jesus Christ. He said, “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”
Finally, in this age, when we know so well the Gospel story, we must realize its real impact. This incredible story does not tell us that we should join a religious society called a church, nor does it give us a new set of rules to follow, which replace the old law. It reveals the loving advent of the Son of God into our world and that, by His Spirit, He wants to dwell in us and have a personal relationship with us. This means that we do not just visit Him on Sunday, but that we live with Him every day…allow His presence to influence our behavior…
talk to Him often, letting His will direct our decisions…praise Him in prayer and in our actions of kindness and love…and rejoice in His salvation always.